Thursday, January 11, 2007


Evelyn Gordon talks about why Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, if she were to take over as premier, would only make things worse:
According to the polls, Tzipi Livni might well be Israel's next prime minister. Public disgust with the government in which she serves as foreign minister has somehow bypassed her; with an approval rating of over 50 percent, she is Israel's most popular politician. Yet this popularity is mystifying - because Livni's record gives every reason to believe that she would be as dismal a premier as her current boss.

As The Jerusalem Post correctly noted in a recent editorial, the very fact that she is conducting an independent foreign policy, diametrically opposed to that of the government in which she serves, is problematic: Israel cannot effectively make its case to the world when senior ministers publicly espouse contradictory positions. But the content of her policies, as outlined in recent speeches and interviews, is even more problematic.

On Syria, for instance, Livni told the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee last month that Israel must conduct a "sustained evaluation" of Syria's intentions, and until then, "there is no point in making any declarations for or against" negotiating with Damascus. She thereby publicly undercut the prime minister, who opposes talks with Syria on the grounds that it has demonstrated no real readiness for peace. What was truly astonishing, however, was that her ministry's political research center had already prepared just such an evaluation, which she herself submitted to the committee - and its conclusions were identical to Ehud Olmert's. [...] BUT IF her handling of Syria is problematic, Livni's proposals on the Palestinian front are downright disastrous.

According to a report in Haaretz, which Livni has not denied, her plan is as follows: Israel should reach an agreement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas under which Israel would withdraw from the entire West Bank east of the fence (about 90 percent of the territory), allowing a Palestinian state with temporary borders to be established there and in Gaza. Abbas would then run for election on this plan; should he win, Israel would gradually implement the withdrawal in exchange for Palestinian action on terrorism.

Unfortunately, this proposal has two glaring flaws. One is Livni's naive belief that withdrawal, once promised, can be conditioned on Palestinian counterterrorism efforts. The reality, as the Oslo process proved, is that Israel will face overwhelming international pressure to keep its promise even if Abbas does nothing on terrorism. In the two and a half years following the 1993 Oslo Accord, Palestinian terrorists killed more Israelis than during the entire preceding decade. Yet international pressure nevertheless forced Israel to execute four withdrawals over the next six years - each in exchange for the same pledge to fight terror that the Palestinians had so blatantly violated after previous withdrawals.

Given that Abbas has so far demonstrated zero willingness to fight terror, Livni's proposal would thus almost certainly result in Israel being forced to withdraw to the fence without any abatement in Palestinian terrorism. That, inter alia, would expose Israel's largest cities to the same rocket bombardments now afflicting Sderot.
It certainly surprises me why anyone here in Israel would overlook that and approve of Livni without doing any fact-checking. But you see, that's exactly why she too must be strongly criticized, and no one should support her. I would assume that because she's a woman, some people think that this implies that she'd be better for the job. The answer is no. Update: here's Caroline Glick's column on Livni from last October.

UPDATE #2 (Reliapundit): Some polls show that Likud - led by former PM Netanyahu, (who allowed the Likud to dwindle down to a devout remnant) - would sweep back into power.

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